Emperors scampered home to a 64-61 extra time win over Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes on Saturday to tie up the game scores 1-1 heading into next week’s decider of their Angkor Beer Cambodian Basketball League playoffs quarterfinal.
The second ranked Emperors, who had lost the first quarterfinal game last week by a wire-thin two points, were up against the wall most of the way at the Olympic Stadium Indoor Arena until they caught up with Mosquitoes at the end of regulation time and nosed ahead through buzzer-beating free throws.
The day’s other quarterfinal playoff was a total mismatch with top ranked Davies Paints handing out a 116-67 defeat to the CCPL Warriors, who started with just four players and found one more after 20 minutes of play – hardly the kind of man-power one could have expected to stop their rampaging rivals. Paints are the first to make the semi-finals beginning on November 15.
Warriors went out of the CBL as the only team to have conceded triple-digit scores twice during the competition and on both those occasions Paints were the mercenaries, having touched a record 119 in the round-robin rout.
Stakes were obviously high when Mosquitoes and Emperors took the court and that close verdict in the first encounter had given rise to lively anticipation of another grim battle.
The initial buzz was created by the Mosquitoes as they turned a low-scoring first quarter into a 10-point lead by half time (27-17).
Though the Emperors pulled themselves up in the third quarter, they still were staring at a five-point deficit going into the final session.
There was huge relief in the Emperors camp when Bun Vanna brought the scores level at 48-all, and a few minutes later the teams were again locked at 54-54 and eventually 56-56 at the stroke of regulation time.
Andy Pontius and Steve Chunn gave Mosquitoes a four-point lead in the first few moments of the five-minute extra time. But Chao Prohors wrested the initiative for Emperors soon enough by converting two free throws that gave Emperors a 62-61 lead.
At this critical juncture, Chao fouled Mosquitoes’ Colin Meyn twice in succession, the last infraction sending the Emperors player out of the game with his fifth foul.
However, Meyn missed both sets of free throws, much to his team’s chagrin, throwing another lifeline at the Emperors, who went on to profit from a desperate Mosquitoes foul eight seconds from time.
The man of the moment for Emperors was a player only identified as Ming, who made both his free throws and in the bargain swatted Mosquitoes hopes of wrapping up the show.
Davies Paints 116 (John Cornito 20, Aimar Sabayo 18, Janno Cunanan 13) CCPL Warriors 67 (Fred Babida 22, Sovann Panha 10, Rafael Dionco 8)
Emperors 64 (Kim Vengngoun 12, Bun Vanna 12, Eng Eavhai 8) Sabay Tiger Mosquitoes 61 (Jeff Kane 18, Steve Chunn 9, Andy Pontius 8 )